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Hybrid community

Definition

A hybrid community includes both public and private sub-communities. Typically, the majority of the community is publicly accessible. But there will also be smaller private or hidden groups for a specific subset of users, such as moderators or paying members.

Refresher: Private vs. public community
private community is one that only members can access. Discussions are hidden and it’s impossible for non-members to contribute. The benefit is that these exclusive spaces can encourage more valuable conversations.
public community is more open. Typically anyone can see the content created in these communities and it’s usually easy for new members to join. The benefit is that the content can reach a larger number of people, which is good for brand building and increasing visibility. 

What are the benefits of a hybrid community

By combining two types of communities, hybrid communities provide the benefits of both public and private spaces.

These include: 

Easier community growth

Private communities can be hard to grow because they don’t have any outward-facing content. It is challenging for new members to find these communities, and you can’t take advantage of features like indexing your content on search engines or sharing posts on social media. 

Hybrid communities solve this problem by combining a public-facing community with a private one. You can use the public community to get the space in front of as many people as possible while keeping parts of it hidden.  

Better security

Anyone can see the content published in a public community. This means members may be uncomfortable discussing sensitive topics, which can reduce the value of community discussions. 

Hybrid communities remove this issue by including a hidden space to enable private communication. Members can discuss general topics with a wide range of people in the public community, and then turn to private spaces for sensitive topics.

More monetization opportunities

You can use a hybrid community to grow a paid community. Use the open part of the community to grow your audience and then convert members to the paid community. Only paid members can access and contribute to the private space.

Five use cases for hybrid communities

Brand communities

Brands typically want their communities to be relatively open. This is because communities are powerful marketing channels, and brands can use them to help as many users as possible. 

But, companies can also use private spaces to offer extra benefits to a specific group of loyal users. 

These benefits could include:

  • – Access to VIP support
  • – Early product updates 
  • – Specialized educational materials
  • – Access to events
  • – The ability to request features
Example: WebinarNinja
Webinar platform, WebinarNinja built a community of entrepreneurs who are WebinarNinja’s customers. All of their customers can view the content and join the community. The community also has a private space for research and beta-testing, which superusers from different countries can access to try out the tool’s latest features. 

People who run paid communities benefit immensely from the hybrid community model. They use the public part of the community to generate leads and give customers a taste of the type of content in the paid community. Then they use the private space as an exclusive paid community. 

Example: The MoPros
The MoPros is a paid community for marketing operations professionals. The team behind the paid community also runs a free Slack group that anyone can join. This free space gives people a taste of the type of content in the paid community and helps them increase the audience size beyond paid members. 

Enterprise Social Network 

Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) can benefit from hybrid communities. Organizations can make the majority of the network open so that all employees can access important information and announcements. They can also include private spaces for different departments, roles, or projects. 

Masterminds

Masterminds are groups of peers who share knowledge and give each other advice. People who run or organize masterminds often have a relatively open Community of Practice style community that anyone in the group can contribute to, as well as several smaller closed off masterminds that are private to the people in the groups.

Example: ConvertKit
The ConvertKit community is free for any customer to join—even those on the free plan. The community also has private mastermind spaces that customers can join to learn about specific topics, such as writing or building landing pages. 

Online courses

People who run online learning courses can use hybrid communities in much the same way as people who use paid communities. 

They use the public-facing part of the community as a lead generation tool where people can discuss topics related to the course. They can then create private spaces for each course where students can discuss the things they are learning. 

Two ways to create a hybrid community

There are two main ways to create a private community. You can either create two separate communities under the same brand name or you can add private spaces to an existing community. 

Separate public and private communities under the same name

This is when you create two completely separate communities with the same branding, one that is private and one that is public. You can then invite relevant members of the public community into the private community. 

Going down this route keeps both communities completely separate. This is good if joining the private community removes the need to be part of the public community. 

Private spaces within a single community

This is a more streamlined way to organize a hybrid community. Both public and private communities are hosted within the same platform, but the private spaces are closed off from the public ones. 

For this to work, you need a way to:

  • Create a space that is private from the rest of the community
  • Grant individual members access to the private spaces

The benefit of this is that members don’t need to access two separate communities. Instead, they can access both public and private spaces with the same login. This encourages them to continue to be involved in both communities. 

Meanwhile, admins don’t need to worry about managing two separate communities. And they can see all analytics within the same platform. 

Check out how Tribe helps community builders create hybrid communities with a combination of both public and private Spaces.